Elaine Meinel Supkis
This morning, it is time again to review a large number of Federal Reserve graphs put out by the St. Louis branch. The entire planet earth has been washed over with a huge tsunami of easy lending which triggered vast, global inflation. Money values and systems operate very much like hydraulic systems. This is actually rather strange when we look at it realistically. The tsunami of 'money creation' due to radically increasing the amount of debt owed to the future has destabilized all economic systems from the largest empires to the smallest enclaves. The people responsible for this instability understandably refuse to understand this because it means they must stop doing all the wrong things. Things, that make them very happy. So they do not want to stop. Looking at these many graphs helps us see what has gone wrong.
First, time to see what happened a year ago. This next six months, we must revisit exactly a year ago to see where we were back then and where we are now for the road that stretches between the two is illuminated this way. Last year at this time, I felt it was important to pause and look at economic cycles themselves.
The Federal Reserve was created after the great housing bubble of 1890-1913 burst. The bankers assured President Wilson, they were naughty boys and they met at a private island to cook up a new banking system that would never, ever cause bubbles or cause economic collapses ever again. This new system lasted about...one cycle. It collapsed in 1929. President Roosevelt passed a series of laws and regulations that were designed to prevent the Federal Reserve from going totally insane again and the cycles didn't vanish, they never vanish, but it did prevent wild cycles that could collapse everything very badly from happening.
Under the blanket of laws and regulations imposed after the disaster of the Great Depression coupled with government programs like the GI Bill, the creation of a national lending system to help WWII soldiers buy houses such as the FHA, the US enjoyed a golden era of housing and rising wages. Every time the bankers and investors found a new game, a new ruse, a new trick, the government would move in and fix it so they couldn't evade the post-Great Depression rules. All was well until we hit the Hubbert Oil Peak at home. Then, along with the useless, cruel Vietnam war, our country began to go into bankrupty. To stay this, there was a great battle of wills.
The US is very deep in debt. On top of accumulating debt at every possible level and attaching these promises to every possible future potential earnings or values, the US has been desperate to keep this debt growth gushing. There are two kinds of money value wealth: capital gained via the addition of labor to production which circulates the value gained by selling this to others, the profits are the fuel of capitalist growth of the money supply. Since this is a creative process that makes physical or intellectual extensions of the human condition, creating more capital via the making of things leads to an increase in wealth, the economic condition of the masses: it is the golden goal of all economic systems.
Then there is the easy money way of getting rich: creating debt out of thin air. To keep this from going crazy since it is so easy to make money appear out of nowhere, bankers must follow rules that hinder this process. But these rules don't make them richer. The more they lend, the more money they get to siphon off for themselves. So the make it as fast as possible. Anything can be the foundation of lending. The trick is to get everyone to borrow so everyone is always paying banks back and banks then live off of the 'interest payments'. Only the act of creating money means that interest payments fall behind inflation.
Inflation is what I like to call, 'The ancient goddesses' at work: these goddesses were created by humans and they are the Fates, the Furies and the goddesses who sit on the edge of eternity and who control access to anything that taps into infinity. All lending systems tend to run to infinity just as any fiat money making system will go to infinity if not controlled by careful regulators. Once a system gets in the grips of runaway lending it ends up in the grip of runaway inflation. This is understood by the top central bankers of the world.
Yet they cannot regulate lending because lending makes them richer. The temptation to allow lending to run to infinity is too great. They cannot stop this force because they, themselves, are unable to control their own lusts and desires for power, sex and stuff. The planet is in the grip of a classic wave of irresponsible bankers working with irresponsible rulers of populations working in tandem to make themselves richer and more powerful by dumping epic amounts of debt on every possible human, thing or process. These bankers know that all they have to do to stop this is to raise interest rates.
They toy with this and do the right thing only this causes economic systems to stop. So they drop rates again to get it going again. Some central bankers like the gang in Japan, have simply decided to NEVER raise rates no matter what. Unlike any central bank in history, they have not only driven their own interest rates on their lending to literally 0%, raising it only to 0.5% a year ago, they are far below the rate of real inflation in Japan. But the US rate is no better: it was raised to over 5% due to obvious inflation but fears of the downturn in the economy caused the central bankers here to drop it all the way to 2% even as inflation raged at quadruple the rate.
Since the world's #1 and #3 economies are both using very inflationary lending rates, the idea that inflation has been defeated just because the price of oil is dropping, is fantasy. Oil expresses inflation the best simply because it is the foundation of most energy systems that run the capitalist economic production systems! It is cheap, easy to process and use unlike say, nuclear power.
Until recently, robust growth in Europe and a seemingly endless thirst for petroleum in China and developing nations lifted global demand for oil, and the price with it. But now some economies, especially in Europe, are weakening almost more rapidly than America’s, lifting the dollar. That should help relieve price pressures over all by making imports — as well as oil prices — cheaper.
This uncertainty helps to explain why Dow Chemical, for example, which had raised prices this year by nearly 50 percent for the oil-based raw materials that go into the manufacture of products like diapers and polystyrene, does not want to give up those increases until the company recovers its old profit margins. “Our prices continue to lag our cost increases,” the spokesman, David Winder, said.
And Goodyear Tire and Rubber, which has raised tire prices by 15 percent this year, said it was still making synthetic rubber tires from oil-based feed stocks bought at relatively high prices more than three months ago.
Keith Price, a Goodyear spokesman, said Goodyear could not consider canceling the price increase until it knew whether oil prices were going to stay down.
Profits vanished during the rise of cost of fuel starting with the US wars with Iraq and the US menacing Iran. The three great waves of inflation/recession that have hammered the West since 1970 onwards are very much connected to wars in the Middle East causing catastrophic price hikes in oil. Nearly always, these wars come on the heels of huge accumulations of easy money debt creation. Since there is little obvious 'inflation' going on, everyone gets access to very cheap loans.
Before every war in the Middle East, debt levels of the West go very high. Savings drop in relation to debt creation. The system is unstable. Housing values shoot upwards as people, armed with easy credit, throw caution to the winds and ignore the stresses of paying off higher and higher principal costs of buying property.
The novel focuses on a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life.
Emma, given over to vanity, purchases increasing amounts of luxury items on credit from the crafty merchant, Lheureux, who arranges for her to obtain power of attorney over Charles’ estate, and crushing levels of debts mount quickly.
When Lheureux calls in Bovary's debt, Emma pleads for money from several people, including Léon and Rodolphe, only to be turned down. In despair, she swallows arsenic and dies an agonizing death
Many Victorian novels focused a great deal on the sex/money matrix. Emma Bovary wanted to live in a nice house and have nice things. She also wanted sexual excitement. Everyone around her as well as herself, who she interacted with, wanted to pay later for transient happiness. Eventually, the party came to an abrupt end for all of them as Emma ran out of places to park debts. She ends up running from China to Saudi Arabia to Europe, begging for people to loan to her at cheaper rates. She rolled over previous debts into newer, bigger debts.
In the debt industry, if someone is deep in debt, interest rates do not go down, they go up. If you have no debts at all, the bankers are happy to lend at very cheap rates. But as it climbs, they get nastier. Once one is near insolvency, the rates are astronomic.
The US is being run as if we are the Bovary household: all our creditors now are overseas. All of them have their own goals and desires. And none of them are truly 'friendly' once we hit the debt accumulation wall. This is reflected in the news this week:
The US consumer is not the only one feeling down and out. Since the start of the year, higher food and energy prices have undermined consumer confidence not only in Detroit but also in Dusseldorf, Delhi and Dalian. The upshot: a global slump in personal spending is unfolding, portending rockier times for the global economy and world financial markets.
At best, global private consumption expenditures – roughly $32,000bn in nominal dollars in 2007 – are expected to rise by 2-4 per cent this year. That compares with an 11 per cent jump in 2007, and contrasts sharply with the boom in personal spending this decade.
Global consumption surged 63 per cent between 2001 and 2007, a bonanza fuelled by easy global credit conditions and soaring equity and housing prices. Globalisation and its beneficial effects – lower inflation and lower-cost imports – also boosted consumption.
Consumer spending in many developing nations is increasingly being subsumed by basic staples – food and energy – at the expense of more discretionary items. Meanwhile, beyond the urban and rural poor, more well-to-do consumers in the developing nations have seen their spending squeezed by rising interest rates. As inflationary pressures have mounted, tighter monetary conditions have become commonplace in places like China, India and Chile, threatening to not only dampen consumer spending but also curtail private capital investment.
Private capital investment is dying because the cost of commodities has shot up. This has reduced profits. All bankers would dearly love a system whereby this dynamic never appears. Inflation was banished via cheap oil and cheap labor. But the lower interest rates themselves created inflation! This is the paradox at the heart of this system's dynamics! And by now, even the stupidest central banker should have figured this out. And trust me, they have. Since everyone wants to be Madame Bovary, the bankers can't resist allowing wild lending. So we get these waves. The above graph clearly illustrates not only how we have waves but how the dynamic of these waves get worse, over time.
As the hedonistic army of many Emma Bovarys gets totally out of control, the bankers frantically raise rates very fast. This crashes the economic systems so the bankers then suddenly and swiftly drop rates again. Each cycle excites greater and greater spending binges. The US is the worst at this: we never balance our books anymore. The last time we didn't run a trade deficit was the year we sold our entire military power to the Kuwaiti and Saudi royals. They used this to drive Saddam out of Kuwait in 1990. The price of oil went up and the US went into a recession and the value of housing here dropped. I lost over $100,000 in 1992 due to this.
The last three cycles of rate hikes/rate drops have made some very serious bubbles. In the Dot Com bubble, we saw stocks soar and then crash. Frantically, the Fed dropped interest rates to only 1% and we got the epic housing bubble. During all this, the US trade deficit soared. In 'Madame Bovary', Emma excites the economy of Rouen and her home village with her wild purchases on credit. So it was with the Greenspan 1% lending: the US went on a massive buying binge. US debts soared while 70% of our economic activity was registered as 'consumer spending.' The US balanced its government budget exactly one year out of the past 35 years. It balanced the trade numbers the same number of times: once.
Everyone lending to the US so we could overspend our public, private and trade budgets was done for cynical reasons: everyone wanted to feed off of FUTURE US earnings and savings. The first warning sign of this was the collapse in US savings. Normally, when bankers can't get more savings, they have to raise interest rates to attract profits and savings to themselves so they can continue lending. The US fixed this by having the US Treasury's US budget debts be declared 'assets' and these debts could be used as a basis for future lending. This is the present 'fiat' system. When Nixon ceased using gold as the basis for determining the value of paper money, debt from wars and social spending were declared to be a better basis for determining how much lending bankers could do. And this rapidly shot to infinity.
ABC News' Bianna Golodryga reports: Thank you, weak dollar! For the second day in a row, Wall Street has been greeted by better-than-expected economic news. Wednesday it was a better-than-expected durable goods orders report, for the second month in a row, no less.
This morning it was a better-than-expected revision in second quarter economic growth. GDP growth between the months of April and June was revised up to 3.3 percent after original estimates from the government called for an upward revision of 1.9 percent.
Hey, in this environment, it's kind of nice to have low expectations every once in a while, right? Especially after the pitiful 0.9 percent growth reported for the first quarter of the year.
There was a brief surge in US exports because the US couldn't buy much of anything since we are now being forced to pay for the interest due on trillions and trillions in loans we have foolishly accumulated. The last extravagant purchase of the Bovary household in the novel was for Emma's coffin after she committed suicide. Her daughter had to go work in a factory at the age of only 9 years old to support herself and pay off her mother's debts! The US is in danger of 'committing suicide' via unsustainable war spending. We have the world's biggest military and we can't pay one penny to support it. We borrow.
The Market Watch woman is gleeful because the US is exporting more and the dollar is weak. Like a classic Emma Bovary, this addled female thinks this, 'NOW I can go back to spending on credit again! Whoopee!' We shall see in the graphs below how these dynamics work and why the US should not celebrate a rise in exports if this is based ONLY on the US going into a very bad recession:
First: Total revolving credit in the US.
See how every spike for Christmas spending is bigger and bigger except in the recessions? This is pure Emma Bovary spending. This is wild, often useless, spending. This is buying both adult and children toys. The sybaritic spending sprees spoil our children and spoil ourselves. The mania really took off in 1985. We had only $100 billion in revolving credit which incidentally, was the credit Madame Bovary loved the most. By 2008, revolving credit was now at nearly one trillion dollars! Can't go up forever, this is certain.
Real estate loans held by commercial banks: rose from only $100 billion in 1970 to nearly $4 trillion. This was all in just 38 years. The rise from $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion happened in just 15 years! This is more than doubling. When any system is rising at this fast a speed, we get a 'hockey stick' graph. These graphs where the rise in a system is going straight up are indications of a system in collapse.
We can see from the trade graph, as the real estate lending shot upwards the US trade deficit went in exactly the opposite direction. This leads us to think, they are intimately connected. The US has lost its capitalist structure and is now running on a debt system that is bankrupting it at all possible levels. We still see industry here but it is increasingly owned by foreign powers, often, hostile foreign powers. The US can fix things with global recessions but note how these fail increasingly. The US export markets improve but it is still far, far below the bet records of the last 10 years and that is far, far below the level of solvency.
Note also how, as the US went wild with debt spending and Xmas buying, the swings in trade widen. This exaggerates the sense of overall movement. So whenever it gets even slightly better, the army of Emma Bovarys who are ruining our economy will strut about, shouting, 'The trade deficit is getting smaller' even as it never gets really better.
This is a difficult graph to understand unless one is a fan of tracking how much US government debt is being bought up and held by hostile foreign governments and hostile trade partners running massive trade surpluses with the US. During the 1970-1994 period, US banks sopped up most US government debt because this was the fundamental basis of their lending to the US consumer. But after 1994, Japan began to bid on these Treasuries and held them. They went from holding only $100 billion in 1994 to nearly $800 billion today. They did this so they could run a super-low interest rate lending scheme aimed at lending US banks easy money so US consumers could buy Japanese goods.
Then, in 2001, Greenspan dropped rates to 1%. The US government Treasuries flowed into US banks again since they needed this for lending at the new low rates! But this didn't last long. Despite wild, wild government overspending, the bankers ceased increasing their holdings in 2003 while China and Russia bought up US government debts for entirely hostile reasons! If Japan, Russia and China [and the OPEC nations] didn't buy US Treasuries, this graph would simply go straight upwards in classic hockey-stick style.
This graph of Treasury Deposits with Federal Reserve banks is queer. It certainly shows a dynamic and dire process at work. Looking at it realistically, it seems that since the Reagan Revolution...Reagan was pure Emma Bovary....these deposits went from wild swings between $4-$16 billion each cycle down to a range of only $5-6 billion a cycle. The only thing I can think here is, the epic slosh of funds being sucked up by the entire planet via their central banking FOREX reserves are responsible for this.
Since the Japanese first explored this new system when their own banks collapsed in 1992, everyone has finally figured out how to make the dollar stronger and thus, their exports to the US increase. Everyone has been playing this game for quite a while now. The Chinese figured out the Japanese game in 1999 and are now sitting on the world's biggest FOREX reserves and incidentally, running the biggest trade surplus with the US. The US could figure this out but refuses.
Madame Bovary, when she knew perfectly well, her credit was overextended and she had to stop spending, simply refused to look at her bills or asked for more credit, anyway. Merchants who wanted business tried their best to extend her more credit but she couldn't pay the interest anymore and that was pretty much the end of her spending and her life.
Up until this year, creditor powers like Russia and China were content to let the US Emma spend and spend. But Emma tried to destroy first China's integrity with the attempt at cutting Tibet off from China. Then parked missiles next to Russia and now is trying to prevent Russia from reconsolidating old borders that were breached when Russia went bankrupt twenty years ago. So both of these very powerful creditors are now squeezing the US. And the US is going crazy, trying to intimidate or control creditors.
In battles whereby wild spending lunatics menace creditors, this leads to war and bankruptcy. Not of the creditors, but of the debtor empires. All empires that went deep into debt and then used the 'let's go to war with our creditors' scheme have failed. History is very firm about this.